DC Council: Confirmation Hearings of Allen Lew, Victor Reinoso, and Michelle Rhee

[7/11/07 Update: The DC Council has unanimously confirmed Michelle Rhee as Chancellor of DC Public Schools and Allen Lew as Executive Director of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization. For more information, click here.]

[7/8/07 Note: On July 10, the DC Council has the Confirmation Resolutions for Michelle Rhee and Allen Lew on the agenda. For more information, click here.]

[7/2/07 Note: For background information on Michelle Rhee, click here to see the Washington Post article, “Fenty’s Agent of Change.”]

[6/26/07 Note: I have added the location information to the post. To see the actual calendar of the DC Council for June 25- July 2, click on the word confirm below.]

The DC Council’s hearing to confirm the appointment of Allen Lew as the Executive Director of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization is scheduled for June 26 at 10:00 AM.

10:00 AM, COUNCIL CHAMBER, ROOM 500, PUBLIC ROUNDTABLE, COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE, Vincent C. Gray, Chairman

Agenda item:

1. “Executive Director of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization Allen Lew Confirmation Resolution of 2007″, PR 17-0317. To confirm the Mayoral appointment of Mr. Allen Lew as the Executive Director of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization”.

The DC Council’s hearing to confirm the appointment of Victor Reinoso to be the Deputy Mayor for Education is scheduled for June 27 at 10:00 AM.

10:00 AM, COUNCIL CHAMBER, ROOM 500, PUBLIC ROUNDTABLE, COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE, Vincent C. Gray, Chairman

Agenda item:

1. “Deputy Mayor for Education of the Department of Education Victor Reinoso Confirmation Resolution of 2007”, PR 17-0319. To confirm the Mayoral appointment of Mr. Victor Reinoso as Deputy Mayor for Education of the Department of Education.

The DC Council’s hearing to confirm the appointment of Michelle Rhee to be the Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools is scheduled for July 2 at 10:00 AM.

10:00 AM, COUNCIL CHAMBER, ROOM 500, PUBLIC ROUNDTABLE, COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE, Vincent C. Gray, Chairman

Agenda item:

1. “Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools Michelle Rhee Confirmation Resolution of 2007”, PR 17-0318. To confirm the Mayoral appointment of Ms. Michelle Rhee as Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.

DCPS Chancellor: Acting Chancellor Michelle Rhee Forms Transition Team; Selects DCPS Chancellor-Level Staff

[7/11/07 Update: The DC Council has unanimously confirmed Michelle Rhee as Chancellor of DC Public Schools and Allen Lew as Executive Director of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization. For more information, click here.]

[7/1/07 Note: For background information on Michelle Rhee, click here to see the Washington Post article, “Fenty’s Agent of Change.”]

According to The Washington Post, Acting DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has selected a transition team to provide strategies associated with the DC Public Schools opening in August 2007. Principally, according to the Post, the focus will be on hiring principals and solving other pressing issues (financial audit of DCPS by consulting firms Alvarez & Marsal and McKinsey & Company).

Rhee, so far, has hired the following people:

According to the Post, Rhee is said to be recruiting Billy Kearney, Memphis [Tennessee] executive director of the New Leaders for New Schools, a principal training organization, to work on principal hiring.

However, I am concerned about one detail discussed in the Post’s article (emphasis (in bold) below, mine):

[Eric] Lerum [Chief of Staff for Acting Deputy Mayor for Education, Victor Reinoso] said Rhee’s transition team will function separately from the school system’s senior staff members, who worked for former superintendent Clifford B. Janey. He said the transition team will focus on problem-solving, while the senior staff will be dealing with day-to-day operations.

I believe that DCPS senior staff should be involved in the transition team. Ultimately, the DCPS senior staff (and the rest of DCPS’s 11,500 employees) must carry out the policy and strategy issues discussed among the members of the transition team. Thus, at a minimum, the DCPS senior staff should have a liaison on the transition team to allow the DCPS senior staff to comment whether a policy or strategy developed by the transition team can be done in an effective and timely fashion, within the resources of DCPS. The DCPS senior staff would also have advance time to begin implementation of the transition team’s ideas. This is especially true for items that must be completed by the start of the school year in August.

Moreover, participation of the DCPS senior staff on the transition team would also allow the DCPS senior staff to suggest potential alternatives and other suggestions to the transition team, given the DCPS senior staff’s institutional knowledge of DCPS’s administrative organization.

ACRI Ballot Initiative (Colorado): Colorado’s Initiative Title Board Sets Ballot Language

[Note: This post updates the information in my previous post on this issue.]

Colorado’s Initiative Title Setting Review Board (Title Board) published the title and ballot language for the American Civil Rights Institute’s (ACRI) initiative (Step 5 — Title Setting).

ACRI’s initiative amends the Colorado constitution. The text of the ACRI’s proposed ballot initiative is here.

The meeting described in the Rocky Mountain News article occurred when certain Colorado registered electors appealed the decision of the Colorado Title Board (Step 7 — Rehearings of Title Board Decisions). The Colorado Title Board denied the motion for rehearing.

What the registered electors were attempting to do in their motion for rehearing was to argue against the specific policy positions in the language of the initiative. I greatly appreciate their effort.

But as I explained here, there is potential injustice where a registered elector cannot argue against the policy positions involved in the language of the proposed initiative. The registered elector can only object to a ballot title and submission clause that is unfair or to a ballot title and submission clause that does not fairly express the meaning of a proposed initiative (Step 7).

The next stage is step 8, appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. The appeals process to the Colorado Supreme Court has a narrow focus. The Colorado Supreme Court “can either affirm the action of the Title Board or reverse it, in which case the [Colorado Supreme] Court must remand the case to the Title Board with instructions, pointing out where the Title Board is in error.”

Should an appeal to the Supreme Court fail or not occur, the next stage would be step 9, where the proponents of the proposed ballot initiative would have to collect 76, 047 signatures of Colorado’s registered electors.

Barring an anomaly, I expect the signature collection campaign to start relatively shortly.

DCPS Chancellor: Review of Selection Process & Duties of the Chancellor

District of Columbia Council Chair Vincent Gray asked Mayor Adrian Fenty for the procedure for the selection of D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor-nominee Michelle Rhee.

Review of the takeover legislation, the 2007 District of Columbia Public Education Reform Amendment Act (Act), suggests that Fenty acted appropriately under the technical requirements. There is nothing precluding Fenty from consulting the DC Council members, as the Act’s requirements only require the Mayor to consider the recommendation and opinion of the panel (with greater weight given to the recommendation of the Washington Teachers Union).

The relevant section is under Title I, section 105:

(b)(1) Prior to the selection of a nominee for Chancellor, the Mayor shall:
(A) Establish a review panel of teachers, including representatives of the
Washington Teachers Union, parents, and students (“panel”) to aid the Mayor in his or her selection of Chancellor;
(B) Provide the resumes and other pertinent information pertaining to
the individuals under consideration, if any, to the panel; and
(C) Convene a meeting of the panel to hear the opinions and
recommendations of the panel.
(2) The Mayor shall consider the opinions and recommendations of the panel in
making his or her nomination and shall give great weight to any recommendation of the Washington Teachers Union.

Ultimately, the selection of the Chancellor rests with the Mayor, as the DCPS Chancellor serves at the pleasure of the Mayor (Act Title I, section 105(a)(3)).

However, it is ill advised to ignore the views of the members of DC’s legislative body, the DC Council. The DC Council has the power to confirm Rhee to the post of DCPS Chancellor (Act Title I, section 105(a)).

Concerning the DCPS Chancellor, the Act describes the requirements and duties of the position. The education and experience needed for the job of DCPS Chancellor is not defined (Act Title I, section 105(a)(2), arguably leaving it to the Mayor to decide on those details.

The duties of the DCPS Chancellor is defined in Act Title I, section 105(c):

(c) The duties of the Chancellor shall include to:
(1) Organize the agency for efficient operation;
(2) Create offices within the agency, as necessary;
(3) Exercise the powers necessary and appropriate to operate the schools and
school system and to implement applicable provisions of District and federal law;
(4) Communicate with the collective bargaining unit for the employees under
his or her administration;
(5) Promulgate and implement rules and regulations necessary and appropriate to accomplish his or her duties and functions in accordance with section 103 and the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act, approved October 21, 1968 (82 Stat. 1204; D.C. Official Code § 2-501 et seq.);
(6) Obtain parental input as required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,
approved January 8, 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107-110; 115 Stat. 1425), and in accordance with the rules promulgated pursuant to this title;
(7) Hold public meetings, at least quarterly;
(8) Exercise, to the extent that such authority is delegated by the Mayor,:
(A) Personnel authority; and
(B) Procurement authority independent of the Office of Contracting and
Procurement, consistent with the District of Columbia Procurement Practices Act of 1985, effective February 21, 1986 (D.C. Law 6-85; D.C. Official Code § 2-301.01 et seq.);
(9) Maintain clean and safe school facilities; and
(10) Create and operate a District-wide database that records the condition of all school facilities under the control of DCPS, which database shall be updated as necessary, but at least once per calendar year.

The job of DCPS Chancellor requires more than just selecting teachers (the focus of the New Teacher Project) and principals.

DCPS Chancellor

[7/11/07 Update: The DC Council has unanimously confirmed Michelle Rhee as Chancellor of DC Public Schools and Allen Lew as Executive Director of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization. For more information, click here.]

Mayor Adrian Fenty selected Michelle Rhee as his nominee for the post of Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.

Ms. Rhee was the CEO of the New Teacher Project, a non-profit organization (with 110 staff members) that is “dedicated to increasing the number of outstanding individuals who become public school teachers and to creating environments for all educators that maximize their impact on student achievement.”

Ms. Rhee has selected a vice president from the New Teacher Project, Kaya Henderson, to be Deputy Chancellor.

I will have to watch this situation as an ongoing project. It would be nice for the large school system to operate effectively for all of the students and staff, but there is a history against it.

Will Ms. Rhee have the managerial skill to steer a large government agency (11, 500 employees)? Time will tell.

I must mention that the way that Clifford Janey’s dismissal occurred was deplorable. It only adds to the expectation of quick success under Ms. Rhee.

ACRI Ballot Initiative (Colorado): Proposed Initiative Language

[June 22, 2007 Note: The information concerning ACRI’s ballot initiative language in this post (first and second paragraphs) has been updated here.]

Colorado has published language for the American Civil Rights Institute proposed ballot initiative (note: the actual language in the initiative is subject to change).

Clause one is unsurprising.

SECTION 31: NONDISCRIMINATION BY THE STATE
(1) The State shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

The Colorado Legislative Council and the Office of Legislative Legal Services have provided an interesting analysis of the initiative’s language. Essentially, the Colorado Legislative Council and the Office of Legislative Legal Services asked about the definition of certain terms in the initiative.

Of course, the analysis has no practical effect (emphasis, below, mine).

Step 2 — Review and Comment Meeting

The purpose of a review and comment meeting is twofold: (1) to review the wording of an initiative with the proponents so that the initiative accomplishes the proponents’ intent and (2) to give the public notice that a proposal on a given topic is under consideration. The Office of Legislative Legal Services and Legislative Council Staff jointly prepare written comments on each proposal. The comments typically contain a summary of the proposal followed by a series of questions concerning the wording, intent, and purpose of the proposal. These comments are provided to the proponents 48 hours before the meeting and are reviewed verbally with the proponents during the meeting. The meeting is open to the public and tape recorded for the public record, but there is no public comment or testimony at the meeting. The proponents can revise their proposal to incorporate some or all of the legislative staff comments, but they are not required to do so. If proponents withdraw a measure prior to the meeting, the comments prepared by legislative staff are not released to anyone other than the proponents.

ACRI Ballot Initiative: Can Colorado’s Initiative Process Potentially Contribute to Injustice?

The Colorado Title Setting Review Board approved the title of the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) ballot initiative.

I have serious concerns about the Colorado initiative process. The overall concern of the process seems to be to ensure that the initiative satisfies the technical requirements to be on the ballot. There is no consideration of the issues contained in the body of the initiative. I realize that Colorado’s initiative process adheres to the mandates of the Colorado constitution giving the public a right to propose initiatives. That does not preclude comment on how Colorado’s initiative process can have detrimental effects.

Colorado’s initiative process would be fine with noncontroversial items having broad general applicability. However, Colorado’s initiative process becomes weak when used for initiatives, like ACRI’s, that implicate the state legislature’s policy making authority. Especially where the negative impact of ACRI’s initiative falls heavily on non-White citizens.

For example, in Step 2 (review and comment meeting) of Colorado’s initiative process, the Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services and Legislative Council have an open hearing about the substance of the initiative. The public, though, is not allowed to comment or provide testimony on the initiative proposal at the meeting.

Moreover, a person seeking to object to an initiative can only object to the title of the initiative (steps 7 and 8) , or later in the process, challenge the signatures collected by those seeking to place the initiative on the ballot (step 13).

Colorado’s initiative process could contribute to injustice when it permits initiatives, like ACRI’s, to go onto the ballot without legislative or public comment on the policy details of the initiative.